On faith: What are you called to do?
By: From Rev. John Dietz, Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Two Harbors, Lake County News Chronicle
In the church we have these commemorations - not many people observe them - but we have them nonetheless. They are called “saints days” - when we remember particular people who lived what we might call an exemplary life. In other words, they were really good, or really brave, or really generous. None of them were perfect, but still, compared to most of us, they look pretty good. So we call them saints.
Of course, just to be clear, in the scripture, the word “saint” refers to any Christian. Saint Paul writes his letters to the saints in particular towns and cities. He’s not writing just to the really good, brave, or generous people in those places, but to everyone who believes in and follows Jesus.
But over time, saints became a particular classification. And maybe it’s been helpful to have certain people to look up to or to say: ‘This person really lived out what it means to be a Christian. Let’s try to be like her.’ But then again, maybe it hasn’t been so helpful. What do you think?
To have a certain group of people who somehow managed to get on the official list of saints starts to make the rest of us feel kind of ordinary, or lacking. If any one were to ever paint my portrait (which I’m sure they won’t), they would not portray me with a halo of light surrounding my head.
And that’s the thing I guess I’m becoming okay with — my ordinariness.
I’m not advocating for mediocrity. I barely have to. If anything, I think things worth doing are worth doing well. I strive for excellence in my work (note the difference between excellence and perfection). Other people should do the same.
But my work, and the things I do, are ordinary. I’m not washing lepers in India, or starting an orphanage in Africa, or standing up to the powers that be, demanding freedom and equality, or anything else the “saints” always seem to be doing when they’re not having ecstatic visions of the Triune God. I’m not doing any of that.
I’m preaching at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Two Harbors. I’m shopping at SuperOne. I walk my dogs down to the post office. I eat lunch. I teach confirmation classes. I eat some more. I write newsletter articles. Pretty ordinary stuff.
Martin Luther - the Sixteenth Century monk for whom the Lutheran church was named - talked about vocation. Vocation is what we are called to do, who we are, where we fit in the world. Some people are called to be mothers, some soldiers, some teachers, pastors, truck drivers, waitresses, students, electricians, nurses; all are called to be saints. In our ordinariness, doing what we do day in and day out, with the people God has placed around us (we call them neighbors), we are all able to follow Christ.
What are you called to do? It isn’t always just one thing. Maybe you’re a husband, and a father, and a mechanic, and a fisherman, or a mom, a sister, a doctor, and a volunteer at the humane society, or a student, and a friend, and a son, and a hockey player. Where is God calling you to use your goodness, your bravery, your generosity? How can you be the change you want to see in your world - not half way across the world - but right where you’re at, doing the things you do, using the gifts and skills and interests God gave you?